Tropical Boubou ant-ing!

Hello – a few days ago I heard something scrabbling away on my roof. At first I thought it was one of the hyraxes that share my house (or from their perspective – I’m the guest in their rocky retreat). I went outside and indeed did find the hyrax – but it wasn’t responsible for the scratching noise. In fact it too was staring up at the roof with a puzzled look on its face. Looking up I saw a black and white bird, the Tropical Boubou, flapping about and making a big fuss. Puzzling over its behaviour, it took me a second to realise that the bird was actually doing some really cool behaviour. It was anting!. If you are unfamiliar with this – basically some ants secrete formic acid and other chemicals when disturbed. While this is meant to discourage whoever is messing with the ants, some birds take advantage of this. They bother the ants deliberately so as to get them to spray they formic acid at them. This then serves the birds as a free anti-pest bath as the ant-chemicals penetrate their feathers and help deal with bird lice and other itchy hangers-on! hyrax-lr5114.jpg[kml_flashembed movie=”″ width=”425″ height=”350″ wmode=”transparent” /]   

3 thoughts on “Tropical Boubou ant-ing!”

  1. Dino, Hope alls well. i have also heard behaviorists suggest that the birds do not get a proven anti parasite benefit and that they may ‘ant’ as a relaxant and it has been likened to taking drugs.
    who knows.
    cheers, James
    Karisia Walking Safaris


Leave a Comment